Q10: Homestyle Custom Upholstery

October 1, 2012

Larry Schneider brought his upholstery business to Allis Street in Bay View in 2007. He said it was a good move because of his proximity to the marinas.
—photo Jennifer Kresse

1. When did you start your business? What appealed to you about upholstery?

I started doing upholstery in 1973 and opened my shop in 1983. Upholstery appealed to me because it was creative and hands-on, as well as clean and warm compared to the bodywork and construction my friends were getting into.

2. How did you learn your trade? School? On the job? Or?

I studied at MATC, starting with a Furniture and Auto Upholstery class. I started at the Trim Shop in Waukesha, working with automotive upholstery and tops. Then I worked for Custom Top Shop in Butler for a few years before I tried my hand in a factory setting at Laacke and Joys making tents and other production items. I was hired by Kendor Marine in Franklin in 1980 to open and run a boat canvas and upholstery shop for their marine parts store, where I became a specialist in boat tops, covers, and upholstery. Happily, that brought me to Bay View because I wanted to be close to the many marinas and boat yards in the area.

3. Where was your first shop located? When did you move, and why? Was it a good move?

I opened on the northeast corner of Ryan Road and 27th Street in May of 1983. We moved in 2004 because a developer purchased the building we were renting, and demolished it. In 2007 we finally settled in here in Bay View. It was a great move coming here since we are now surrounded by marinas, and the business they generate has become the largest facet of our work.

4. How many employees do you have?

I have three full-time and three part-time employees.

5. What do you upholster? Do you make tarps or sails? 

I have a diverse mix of work—furniture, boat interiors and tops; cars, trucks, and motorcycle seats; awnings, restaurant and hotel interiors, and even airplane seating. Anything that has material attached or sewn we work on.

6. What is the range of fabrics you work with?
Leather, fabric, vinyl, canvas, and polycarbonate; I can’t think of anything I haven’t worked with.

7. What other services do you provide? Do you do repairs or renovations? If so, on what sorts of objects?

I offer repairs as well as partial recover/replacement for anything that we work on where it is practical to do so. For example, replacing the windows in boat canvas or patching small rips and tears in tarps and covers.

8. What would make Bay View a better environment for your business?

More parking, or at least less stringent and obscured parking rules. We often have customers who have trouble finding parking, or even worse, who are ticketed because the posted parking restrictions are not the only ones in effect. Because we do not live in the area of our shop, we are not familiar with most of the parking rules either.

9. How has your business changed over time?

We have added different skills and expanded the different kinds of work we do. For me personally, as time has gone on, I have less time to do the work myself and find that I am more often talking with customers or running the office rather than actually sewing.

10. What is most challenging about operating a small business?

Letting people know what we all do and where we are.

Homestyle Custom Upholstery
Larry Schneider, Owner
2059 S. Allis St.
(414) 761-9244

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